Reviewing Every Major E3 2017 Press Conference

We’re nearing the end of E3 week. All the games are out in the open. So with the 6 big press conferences now behind us, how did they all do?

Console Manufacturers: Xbox | PlayStation | Nintendo
Third Party Publishers: Electronic Arts | Bethesda | Ubisoft | Devolver Digital



Xbox E3 2017 Briefing

Hardware: Xbox One X, Xbox One S
Game Lineup:
Forza Motorsports 7, Metro Exodus, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Ashen, Deep Rock Galactic, The Darwin Project, Black Desert Online, The Last Night, Tacoma, The Artful Escape, State of Decay 2, Minecraft 4K, CodeVein, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Sea of Thieves, Super Lucky’s Tale, Cuphead, Crackdown 3, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility, Anthem
Biggest Question: Even with Xbox One X, do they have what it takes to convince consumers to purchase their console over a PS4 or PC?

Summary

Xbox unveiled their new console model: the high-end, 4K-capable Xbox One X, and ran through a gauntlet of exclusive, first party, and 4K compatible third-party games to show off what you can play with it.

Biggest Takeaway

If you want the highest quality console on the market, Xbox has it. If you mainly play multiplayer games, they’ll likely all function and work the best on Xbox One X. You’ll miss out on all the big PlayStation games, but Xbox has a few gems on the way themselves. Unfortunately the number of exclusive titles is small, and there isn’t much of a sign if Xbox will be able to muster up AAA exclusives outside of ForzaHalo, and Gears once their current string of titles launches in the coming year.

Did they accomplish what they set out to do?

That depends on who you ask. From a console manufacturer’s perspective, maybe not. Despite bragging about 22 exclusive games on Xbox One and many games capable of 4K resolution, there wasn’t that much that could convince consumers to spend the extra money to jump in. The number and size of their exclusives pale in comparison to their competition and virtually all of their exclusive titles are either timed or available on PC. Without that, there are serious questions as to whether 4K gaming is worth the extra $100 or more.

However, from a platform-maker’s perspective, they did fairly alright. As a software company, Microsoft’s perspective has been to get people using Xbox Live rather than the hardware itself– no matter how they interact with it, whether it be on PC, mobile, Nintendo Switch, or the Xbox One family of consoles. Their slim model is cheaper than the competition and likely to sell a lot as a 4K compatible bluray player, and despite the possibility that the X may not sell as well, their intention was always to provide those who want the premium gaming experience on console the machine that could offer it to them. In that sense, they did what they wanted to.

PlayStation E3 2017 Media Showcase

Hardware: PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation VR
Game Lineup: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds, Days Gone, Monster Hunter World, Shadow of the Colossus, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Call of Duty: WWII, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, Star Child, The Inpatient, Bravo Team, Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV, Moss, God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Destiny 2, Spider-Man
Biggest Question: Can Sony support PlayStation VR?

Summary

Sony trotted out a live orchestra once again and ran through a large number of trailers and prerecorded game demos for a large number of big, first and third party AAA titles, interspersed with Shawn Layden sightings.

Biggest Takeaway

Sony has a large selection of big AAA exclusive titles on the way, but virtually all of them aren’t coming out this year. There were a number of exclusive, 2017 titles that didn’t make the cut for the stage show– despite a much shorter runtime than usual from them. Furthermore a number of games they’ve shown from previous years that still haven’t released made no sighting once again. Despite showing a bunch of good-looking games, they all just seem a bit further off than consumers would like, which could lead to them losing marketshare to Xbox this holiday season.

Did they Accomplish What They Set Out to Do?

They may have given PlayStation players some manner of confidence in the future of their platform, but many are probably concerned about when they’re actually going to get the games Sony promises are coming. The last two years, they’d been good at not letting first party games fester in development for too long after their announcement, but this does not look to be like one of those years.

The real failure of the show was the PS VR section. The 8 minute segment set aside for VR showed games that either failed to register, were ports of older titles, were small “experiences” instead of fully-fledged games, or, in the case of Bravo Team, looked terrible. It seems like Sony has studios dedicated to developing content for VR, but it’s hard to say whether they know how to support it and if what they can put out will be enough to sustain it alongside the PS4. I’ll say this: at this point, the level of support they’re giving PS VR seems less than the amount the Vita was getting from Sony at the same point in the hardware’s life cycle. That is not a good thing to be compared to.

Nintendo Spotlight E3 2017

Hardware: Nintendo Switch
Game Lineup: Arms, Splatoon 2, FIFA 18 for Nintendo Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Kirby 2018, Yoshi 2018, Metroid Prime 4, Fire Emblem Warriors, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, Rabbids + Mario: Kingdom Battle, Rocket League, Super Mario Odyssey
Biggest Question: Does Nintendo have the production output to avoid software droughts on Switch that they’ve experienced on other consoles?

Summary

A short 25 minute direct-like video listed off a number of late 2017 and early 2018 games for Nintendo Switch, as well as announcing a few big titles down the road. In between, Reggie took us on a spiritual journey of discovery and zen, teaching us the path to enlightenment.

Biggest Takeaway

Nintendo has put its main focus on the Nintendo Switch. They could have looked at 3DS games this year: the new Pokémon, a remake of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, and a remake of Metroid II. Instead they laid out all the big games coming from them the rest of the year, mentioned a few coming early next year to look forward to, and teased a few a ways out to let viewers know their new console will have legs. A new trailer for Super Mario Odyssey placed it firmly as the Switch’s second must-have title behind Breath of the Wild.

Did they Accomplish What They Set Out to Do?

One could argue they had done most of what they set out to do prior to the event. We already knew that in the last 7 months of the year, we were getting ArmsSplatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, Pokkén Tournament, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Super Mario Oddyssey, and after Ubisoft’s press conference, Rabbids + Mario: Kingdom Battle. Maintaining one big title a month had been a boon to the 3DS at that console’s high point, and even before today, Nintendo seemed committed to giving the Switch that level of support, consistently. What they still needed to do was shore up the remaining holes in their lineup and reassure fears fans may have about software droughts going forward.

On that front they did enough. For this year, they didn’t waste time on the games we’ve seen enough of, revealed a big indie get to remind Switch users of the many titles releasing on the eshop every week, and gave their remaining titles release dates and windows. Going forward, the threw out a few new games for next year– both likely releasing early in the year, and reassured fans with two big announcements: Metroid and Pokémon are both coming to Nintendo Switch.

Past that, they also offered up a few more 3DS games for the remainder of the year while the Switch install base continues to grow (including another Metroid game), and hinted at more titles to be announced in the future. Despite not doing particularly much, they still managed to ease fans’ worries and give them a little extra as well.

EA Play 2017 

Game Lineup: Madden NFL 18, Battlefield 1 – In the Name of the Tsar, FIFA 18, Need For Speed: Payback, A Way Out, Anthem, NBA Live 18, Star Wars: Battlefront II
Biggest Question: How long until all the talk of Star Wars leads to tangible games?

Summary

EA put on a very EA press conference. They walked through their EA sports games, had a completely unnecessary celebrity appearance, teased one game that’s a year out, had a smaller game to make them seem more human, and spent an excessive amount of time on their biggest title.

Biggest Takeaway

EA has found itself a cycle of releases, and therefore a consistent cycle of press conferences. They’ve decided that Madden, FIFA, and whatever other EA Sport title they want to sell that year each require several minutes to highlight the minute changes between yearly installments. They have one title from their indie program to broaden their portfolio, and at least one title that’s further off (usually a BioWare game). Finally they have their two or three big titles each year.

What this basically means is you know what to expect and, like their sports titles, the interest generally will only come from what was different from the last title. And because the last titles in both Need for Speed and Star Wars: Battlefront were underwhelming and lacked features, a lot of what they showed seemed interesting. Maybe not enough to purchase, but enough to garner curiosity.

Did they Accomplish What They Set Out to Do?

This was a very safe year for EA. They had lain out all the games they’d have to be played beforehand– which was really a result of the type of event that EA Play is. It’s much more consumer-focused than E3, which has a lot less to play than is shown off at the press conferences. So to make sure attendees aren’t disappointed with what they can play after seeing other games at the press conference, they made announcements before the show and laid out a list of the playable games beforehand so fans would know what to expect.

As for the question of “where are the Star Wars games?” the answer appears to be “much further out.” Honestly speaking, this might have been a smarter move, as the past 4-5 years have seen them show off games that are so far away from release that they can barely show visuals, let alone gameplay, which often was just playable prototypes. Sticking to this year with a little tease of a title coming next year seemed like a very smart decision on their part, even if viewers were underwhelmed with the games they ended up showing.

Bethesda E3 2017 Showcase

Game Lineup: Doom VFR, Fallout 4 VR, Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda Creation Club, The Elder Scrolls Legends – Heroes of Skyrim, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Nintendo Switch, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Quake Champions, The Evil Within 2, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Biggest Question: Does Bethesda have enough games to warrant a press conference?

Summary

Bethesda listed off a few of the games they released in the past year for cheap applause, and pressed play on a trailer package showing off their VR titles, a bunch of their titles that had previously been released, announcements of the Bethesda Creation Club, and the Quake Championships– all packaged within a series of cartoon interludes about the fictitious “Bethesdaland.” Their Nintendo Direct-like presentation wrapped up with their two big releases in trailers for The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II.

Biggest Takeaway

Bethesda has a handful of titles on a bunch of different platforms, including VR tech and the Nintendo Switch, all coming this year. October will be their big month as they try to avoid the November traffic jam by releasing their two biggest titles. They continue to support games that are already released, letting consumers know that their titles will have legs.

Did they Accomplish What They Set Out to Do?

Bethesda seems content on only discussing games that are coming this year, which isn’t that bad of an idea. They have two big games and are supporting a lot of different platforms that many publishers just aren’t. But during their best press conference of the 3 in 2015, they spent an extra amount of time on their two biggest titles of the year in Doom and Fallout 4, which helped offset the fact that the rest of their content was either small titles or games that already released (whether DLC or expansions).

This year, they ran through ports to VR and Nintendo Switch, updates to Elder Scrolls Online, Legends, and Dishonored 2, and announcements of mod curation and a competitive Quake Champions league. In announcing The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Collossus, they showed short trailers– the prior, a cinematic, and the latter, a series of scenes from the game. Despite both games releasing in 4 months, that’s all the time they spent on either.

Giving them gameplay demonstrations would have gone a long way to getting viewers interested in them. With only trailers, they basically just announced them and hoped that the cut footage would be enough to sell them– which is fine in cases with, a lot of substance, but substance was what this conference was lacking. In the end, the real question was “Why is Bethesda putting on press conferences every year without enough content to show?”

Ubisoft E3 2017 Press Conference

Game Lineup: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Assassin’s Creed Origins, The Crew 2, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Transference, Skulls & Bones, South Park: Phone Destroyer, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Steep: Road to the Olympics Expansion, Far Cry 5, Beyond Good & Evil 2
Biggest Question: Will Ubisoft have anything that can exceed expectations?

Summary

Ubisoft opened by bringing Miyamoto out on stage with an arm cannon, and then ran through all the games everyone expected without wasting too much time on either, and made a number of game reveals that probably didn’t need as much time as they were given. There were also a number of interesting announcements between the VR game Transference, a toys-to-life title in Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and an unexpected cinematic trailer for Beyond Good & Evil 2.

Biggest Takeaway

Ubisoft has a bunch of games coming out within the next year to look forward to, whether you want shooters, open-world adventures, a racing title, a VR experience, an RPG, or a colorful strategy title for Switch. They also have a handful of unexpected titles that they may have to sell you on, but have given themselves the time to try and do just that. No matter the gamer, there’s probably something in their lineup that you’d be interested in.

 

Did they Accomplish What They Set Out to Do?

The answer to whether Ubisoft can still surprise is yes. Beyond all expectations, they are still capable of putting together something interesting out of games and franchises you wouldn’t expect much of. There are a few examples: Assassin’s Creed Origins seems to have taken mechanic changes from other series that make the game play differently while still being an Assassin’s Creed title, they’re teaming up with Elijah Wood’s VR studio for an interesting-looking title, and they’re making an unique attempt at the toys-to-life category with Starlink: Battle for Atlas.

The biggest example, however, was Rabbids + Mario: Kingdom Battle. When leaked, everyone’s reaction seemed to be “why would anyone want this?”. Back then, many thought that it was going to be an RPG featuring Rabbids and Mario characters, with more and more internal materials making potential consumers concerned over the final product and the Mario brand as a whole. No one expected it to be an XCOM-like crossover game or for Rabbids + Mario to be one of the most positively surprising titles to appear at E3 2017.

There are still a few titles that didn’t break this mold in a way you would have hoped, such as The Crew 2Skulls & Bones, or Far Cry 5, but in the face of all the pleasant surprises Ubisoft turned out, whether they came up short wasn’t nearly enough to take viewers out of the conference as a whole.

And still, the most important thing they may have sold this E3 was their image. Between the director for Rabbids + Mario shedding a tear when his hero, Shigeru Miyamoto, acknowledged him on stage, Michel Ancel tearing up when he was finally able to announce Beyond Good & Evil 2, and Yves Guillemot’s truly genuine excitement for discussing all the games and the developers behind them, it sure gave off a different impression of Ubisoft as a whole versus the EA-like corporate image that many had started viewing them as.

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